Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

I have heard that one must apologize to the person if he has backbitten the latter. However I have read that for backbiting, it is not mandatory to approach that person for forgiveness if the news has not reached him. How do I reconcile between these two views?

Answer: Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah,

There is no contradiction here.

The basis is that you seek forgiveness directly from the person in question. However, and in cases of [likely] greater harm or hurt, or when the slander has not reached them, it suffices to repent without specifically seeking the person out with an apology.

Note that seeking a general pardon for any wrongdoing suffices, and you need not state what you said, and subsequently apologize, for obvious reasons.

Please also see: What is Ghiba (Slander)? and What Constitutes as Slander, Backbiting and How to Avoid It? and Slander, Backbiting and Talebearing and A Reader on Tawba (Repentance)

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

Wassalam,
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

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